Note: Allan Maurer, co-founder of WRAL TechWire (Local tech Wire as launched in 2002), is covering the big venture capital and startup events taking place in Charlotte this week. His exclusive first report focuses on Tuesday’s Charlotte Venture Challenge kickoff. Our Insiders can access this story – and more to come. (Read this morning’s first story online at WTW and a (second updating later presentations.)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – You can get a good idea of what’s hot among startups at venture conferences. For instance, six of 30 presenting firms at the Charlotte Venture Challenge this morning are focused on IT and informatics, three have photo/video technologies, and two bring high tech to politics.

The Charlotte Venture Challenge event is ongoing ahead of the full Southeast Venture Conference,

The companies are competing for cash prizes and a shot at presenting to the full Southeast Venture Conference and its 100 investor firms in the afternoon.

Among the presenting companies were:

  • Columbia-SC-based givestream is an unusual start-up combining a live video-streaming app based on the Facebook platform that allows people to contribute to political campaigns and causes via microtransactions in a personal and scalable environment. It seeks $250,000 to gain user traction. The firm’s founders and management is politically connected. Advisor Daniel Ryan helped the 2012 Obama campaign raise $600 million online, the most in U.S. history.
  • Raleigh-based Snapyeti, a photo contest hub that has raised $250,000 from NC IDEA and the Startup Factory. It already has 65,000 users. It helps brands use photo contests to acquire Facebook followers and email subscribers inexpensively. Petmate, for instance, had 5,500 photo shares, 1,400 new Facebook fans, and 2,100 new email subscribers at a cost of $100. It has partnerships with iContact and Bronto.

The presentations also included nine student ventures, which are eligible for a separate $3,000 prize and two $1,000 runner-up prizes. You can see one of the trends we mentioned in the overall event of the region’s strength in creating medical devices here as well.

They included:

  • Chapel HIll based communiGift, created by University of North Carolina at Chapel HIll students, allows people to turn a birthday or other celebration into a charitable giving experience through online product donations.
  • Raleigh-based Lobostim, is developing a non-invasive spinal cord stimulation device to fight chronic pain.
  • Boone-based Myo’bility makes a knee-brace that helps patients extend and flex the knee without the aid of a therapist.
  • Misenheimer-based Righton makes a mobile app that keeps track of pet dietary habits and release food or water into a pet’s bowl automatically and remotely.
  • Charlotte-based Smartbrush makes a health-monitoring device.
  • Raleigh-based TeacherLOOP is a web-app created by four North Carolina State University students that helps educators find and organize quality educational content.
  • Hickory-based The Citizen is a mobile and web app created by Lenoir-Rhyne University students that is a political networking tool that connects citizens and government.

Award winners in the Charlotte Venture Challenge will be announced later during the Southeast Venture Conference.